The Coachmen Vs. The Rumbles – Part One

***Back in the 60s, when the Beatles were competing with the Rolling Stones, Omaha’s 2 top bands were competing also. On one hand, there was the Rumbles, with their squeaky-clean, boy-next-door image, with the moptop hair and all, just like the Beatles. On the other hand, there was the Coachmen, with their bad-boy, hoody image, just like the Rolling Stones. The Rumbles duplicated the sounds of many of the top hits of the day, while the Coachmen improvised more, with a heavier, rhythm and blues style. One day a book will be written about this microcosm of the whole country. I loved both bands.
***My first memory of the Rumbles was the single my older brother Ken got called Flip Side by Rich Clayton and the Rumbles. It was a great surf-rock record that is very hard to find nowadays. Ken told me yesterday that the original Rumbles drummer was Bill Wakefield, who went to North High with my other brother Art  in the late 50s. He must not have been with them long, because he is not mentioned anywhere on the Rumbles website (see RockinOmaha links on the left.) I remember that later on, he had a band called Bill Wakefield and Random.
***The Rumbles were famous for having a wall of Vox Super Beatle speakers from Johnny Swoboda’s Music store in South Omaha. They carried their equipment in big truck that said The Rumbles, LTD in huge letters on the side.
***They were also the first in the area to use strobe lights. They played quite a bit at the Danish Hall on the east side of downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa (Omaha’s sister city.) I remember seeing them play "I Can See for Miles" by the Who, and being blown away by those strobe lights. All the lights were shut off except those lights, aimed at the audience. What a trip!
***The Rumbles often opened up for big-name bands. I saw them at Peony Park in 1966 with Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and seriously thought they sounded better, especially when they played The Playboys’ "This Diamond Ring". I also saw them on the big stage at the Omaha Civic Auditorium Arena as they opened for Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Mamas and the Papas, and others.
***They often played at the top local teen night club, Sandy’s Escape, (more about this place later.) Sometimes they played upstairs while the Coachmen played downstairs. Wow, what wonderful nights those were! Sandy’s had two stages- it was a great place. The Rumbles also played at a club out in the Ponca Hills area, north of Omaha on Highway 75 near the Forgot Store, a landmark General Store and dive bar. It was called Tanglewood Ranch, and had a converted barn where everyone came out to dance on the weekends in the mid-60s.
***The Rumbles put out a greatest hits LP in the late 80s that is a treasured item to garage band lovers who happened to get there hands on it. They still tour today, still playing the greatest hits of today, plus many of the oldies, clear back to Glenn Miller! Drummer Steve Hough is the only original member and manages the band from his home in Council Bluffs.
***Their biggest hit was "Jezebel", which they still play today. Steve Hough was the original vocalist on the single. They added a horn section to give it a fuller sound then the other version by Herman’s Hermits. Peter Noone still sings that in his concerts. I’m not sure if he is even aware of their version. When I see the Hermits at the Iowa State Fair, (see link at left,) I plan to bring a small tape player so he can hear it. The first big version of the song, by Frankie Layne in 1951, reached #2 on the Billboard charts.

One Comment on “The Coachmen Vs. The Rumbles – Part One”

  1. ALAN says:

    I was unable to play the song for Peter Noone, but did get an album and a CD autographed. I will be offering them in my eBay auctions soon. The show was fantastic, and he stayed about 45 minutes signing autographs and meeting the fans. A great guy!

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